Porsche 911 review
The long-running Porsche 911 sports car is faster and more comfortable than ever
No other sports car can match the over half a century heritage of the Porsche 911. The rear-engined layout has hardly changed since the car was launched in 1963, but the latest car can rightly claim to be the most technically accomplished in its class. With a greater focus on comfort and refinement, the new Porsche 911 is a better all rounder than ever. Its powerful engine range and better chassis means it’s also faster and safer, too. Greater use of aluminium means the car is now lighter, while the new seven-speed manual gearbox is a world first. The 350bhp Carrera and 400bhp Carrera S, in two and four-wheel drive, and Coupe and Cabriolet bodystyles are the mainstays of the range, but the 469bhp GT3 is the most focused offering, while the Turbo and Turbo S are the range toppers.
Our choice: 911 Carrera S
With its round headlamps, arcing roof line and compact proportions, the basic shape of the Porsche 911 is familiar, but it has gone through a steady process of evolution. This time around, the most significant alterations include a 100mm longer wheelbase, a wider front track, larger 19-inch wheels, and a 20mm lower roof line. The windscreen is more steeply raked, the fog lamps are integrated into the front bumper and the rear lights are slimmer. Inside, the car’s cabin takes its inspiration from the Porsche Panamera and is both comfortable and upmarket. The low-slung driving position is comfortable, too. The GT3 model has a 30mm lower ride height, wider body and a fixed rear wing.
The Porsche 911 delivers incredible point-to-point performance – it’s one of the fastest cars on the road today. At the core of this is the new engine range, which in 3.8-litre 400bhp Carrera S trim delivers a staggering blend of power and response. However, this car’s advanced chassis control systems also deserve special mention, and give the car incredible mid-corner stability. A change to the 911’s steering set up means the car is much more comfortable on motorways. It's extremely refined, too - when cruising in seventh gear on a smooth surface, you can almost hear the ticking of the dash-mounted stopwatch that's offered as part of the optional Sport Chrono package. The manual gearbox does feel a little clunky at low-speed though and given the choice we would opt for the fast and precise PDK automatic as its quicker than the manual and more relaxing. The four-wheel drive models do command a hefty premium but we'd recommend them for their excellent all-weather ability. But for ultimate thrills the track-focused chassis, racy engine and optimised PDK of the GT3 take some beating.
Porsche has always taken pride in the build quality of its cars, and the new Porsche 911 is no exception. It’s beautifully constructed, both inside and out, and there’s a robustness to the controls that suggests they will easily last the life of the vehicle. Classic 911s require plenty of looking after but the modern car is packed with proven technology. Porsche’s proven competition record underscores lots of the 911s technical advances, too. Traction and stability control is standard across the range. You also get seven airbags and isofix points for the rear seats as well.
Thanks to the 100mm-longer wheelbase, the Porsche 911 is roomier inside than ever before. The rear seats offer space for two grown-up kids, while the luggage compartment – located at the front of the car – is big enough to carry the weekly shop. There’s not much stowage space inside the car, but at least the glovebox is a useful size for holding maps or other loose items. Visibility is excellent thanks to the large windows front and rear but handy kit like the wiper for the rear window is optional rather than standard. The GT3 model doesn’t get rear seats but there’s the option of a nose lifter to make it easier to enter car parks or steep driveways.
Both Carrera and Carrera S versions of the new Porsche 911 offer fuel economy of more than 30mpg, and are sure to have strong resale values. Watch out for servicing costs though as any Porsche service centre will be pricey. The hi-tech 911 uses lots of high quality parts and consumables like tyres and brake pads, which can prove expensive to maintain. You can expect routine maintenance costs of around £1,000 per scheduled service. However, unlike most other manufacturers Porsche requires you to get your 911 serviced only every two years. Due to the clever four-wheel-drive system there's not much of a fuel economy penalty by opting for it. Expect to get a few less miles out of a tank of petrol, but you'll barely notice it. The GT3 cost just over £100,000 but few cars at any price can match its handling and performance.